Barber fires 5 shots, routs robbersAn East Baltimore...


June 24, 1992

MARYLAND STATE: — Barber fires 5 shots, routs robbers

An East Baltimore barber scared off three armed robbers yesterday when he fired five shots during a holdup at his shop, possibly hitting one of the men, police said.

Two of the robbers stood lookout outside Chance's Friendly Barber Shop in the 1100 block of N. Bond St., and the third forced the owner, James Chance, into a back room at 12:45 p.m.

Mr. Chance gave $170 to the man. When the robber became distracted, the barber, who was carrying a five-shot revolver, fired all five rounds.

The robber was apparently hit by one of the bullets but was still able to flee with the other two men.

* Four people were arrested yesterday after a six-mile boat chase on Curtis Bay and the Patapsco River, where the Coast Guard teamed up with city police to corner the suspects.

The speedboat, named "Heaven Bound," had been reported stolen Saturday from the Stoney Creek Boatyard in Anne Arundel County.

Arrested were John Thomas Swatski, 33, of Essex; Robert G. Byrd, 36, of Middle River; April Ann Lay, 33, of Glen Burnie; and Michael Joseph Butler, 34, of Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

A $1.5 million defamation lawsuit was thrown out of court yesterday after a Frederick County Circuit Court judge agreed with the American Civil Liberties Union of Maryland that the suit was filed to intimidate opponents of a proposed recycling facility in Point of Rocks.

Kieron F. Quinn, the lawyer who argued the case for the ACLU, said it probably was the first time a suit had been dismissed in Maryland as a so-called SLAPP, or "strategic lawsuit against public participation."

The suit stemmed from a letter written by opponents of the Freestate Recycling Corp. recycling plant. An official of the firm sued, claiming that the letter defamed him. Opponents of the plant were subpoenaed to give depositions about their role in Halt Imported Trash, a citizen group.

Mr. Quinn successfully argued before Judge Mary Ann Stepler that the suit had been "filed in retaliation for the exercise of their First Amendment rights."

Ralph Gordon, a lawyer for Freestate Recycling, said no decision had been made on whether to appeal the ruling.

"The law is very clear," he said. "You don't have the right to libel people, even though you have the right to petition."

Baltimore County:

Maryland Rep. Kweisi Mfume, D-7th, has decided not to march in the Catonsville July Fourth parade as a result of the parade organizers' decision to exclude the Gay and Lesbian Veterans of Maryland.

"It would be very difficult for me to be a part of a parade that discriminates against people," he said.

The Catonsville Celebration Committee made the decision to protect the safety of the veterans' group and parade-goers, said Gene Fedeli, general parade chairman.

Alan Stephens, co-president of the gay and lesbian group's Maryland chapter, called Mr. Mfume's decision "courageous.

Anne Arundel County:

Crofton officials upset over a proposed concrete and asphalt recycling plant on Md. 3 get another chance today to question state environmental officials before deciding whether to appeal the case.

Representatives from the state and Crofton are meeting today at Town Hall. Crofton officials will try to get answers that Civic Association President Ed Dosek said were not provided at a public hearing last month.

The board of directors plans to decide next Monday whether to appeal the Maryland Department of the Environment's preliminary approval of a large crusher that would recycle 20,000 tons of concrete and asphalt a year.

Before the permit is issued, the company -- E. L. Gardner Inc. -- must take out advertisements in a newspaper saying that anyone adversely affected by the state's decision can file an appeal.

If Crofton -- or anyone else -- appeals and the state Office of Administrative Hearings decides the appeal is warranted, a second hearing will be held, in front of an administrative law judge.

If no appeal is filed within 10 days of when the notice appears, the state will issue the permit.

Carroll County:

1st Lt. Roy A. Neigh, who has led the Bel Air barracks in Harford County since April 1990, takes over as commander of the Westminster state police barracks July 1.

He will be replacing 1st Lt. Kenneth L. Tregoning of Union Bridge, who has headed the barracks since July 1989 and on the same day will assume command of the Golden Ring barracks in eastern Baltimore County.

The moves are among 36 transfers within the agency. It marks the 11th transfer in Lieutenant Tregoning's 24-year career. Lieutenant Neigh, who lives in the north county town of Melrose, has been on the force 23 years.

State Police are Carroll County's only countywide police service. Several incorporated towns maintain their own police units.

Harford County:

Beginning July 1, countians will have to pay to dump refuse at the county's central landfill, Scarboro, near Dublin.

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